Local Development Fund (LDF) projects on teachers houses in Chikhwawa are shrouded in controversy with about 71 percent incomplete due to irregularities that point some district council officials and the committees which were left with the mantle to handle the projects of corrupt practices.
This was revealed during a Kalondolondo program by Blantyre Synod on Thursday, August 24 at Chinkhwawa district council hall.
The Kalondolondo Programme is an eight year initiative that tracks down implementation of projects under the LDF and provides a platform where communities participate in the budget processes.
It is being implemented by a consortium of plan Malawi, Action Aid and the Council for Non-Governmental Organizations’ in Malawi ( CONGOMA) with funding from Ukaid and Plan UK.
Irregularities in LDF projects
Blantyre Synod Health and Development Commission Governance Co-coordinator Gregory Mtemanyama told the gathering in his presentation that 71 percentages of the teacher housing projects are incomplete with some houses unfinished for a period of three years due to financial mismanagement and irregularities in handling the projects.
For instance, at the following primary schools teacher houses which were started in 2009 are yet to be completed up to 2012: Mzongwe, Kandeu, Phimbi, Pende and Chagambatuka.
“There were many irregularities and in our findings, the committee did not fully utilize the knowledge gained because crucial decisions were made by district council official in the procurement of construction materials, identification of contractors and control of budget,” said
Committee secretary for a teacher house at Mandirade primary school, Gerald Paluma, who stressed that their committee was not given a chance to procure construction material and identification of a contractor.
Paluma said that the contractor (Felix Jere of Amawona Building Contractor) was imposed to them by the district assembly officials.
“As a committee, we were not even given a chance to chose the contractor and we were only told by the district assembly officials that the contractor was Felix Jere and they even further told us that
he will be responsible in procuring of construction materials,” said Paluma, who added that the committee was even dismay when they learnt that the district assembly officials even selected a supplier on their behalf.
According to Nyasa Times investigations, Amawona Building contractor, Felix Jere is the personal assistant for one Member of Parliament in the district Bernadetta Mlaka Maliro.
During the inspection of a teacher house at Mandirade Primary School, which the contract was awarded to him it was revealed that it was not completed due to shortage of some materials, which funds were already given.
According to records, K2.2 million was allocated to the house to be completed but from 2010 up to 2012 the house is incomplete.
Pumulani emphasized that the contractor purchased 160 bags of cement, which later on he told the committee that he had run out of stock.
“What we want is justice to prevail, on why the house is incomplete yet funds were allocated and how was the contract awarded and why the contractor had powers to purchase construction materials without any member from the committee,” said Pumulani.
According to LDF set procedures, the local people are supposed to be in charge of the projects, but it is said that some officials take advantage of high illiteracy levels in the villages.
Kalondolondo unearthed another teacher house in the area of traditional authority Maseya’s which was abandoned after funds were mismanaged.
The construction of the house commenced in 2009 but many things are incomplete. Dyson Bendasoni, who was the committee’s treasure, said that the project stalled because the 173 bags were not enough to complete the house.
Quizzed on how the 173 bags were used basing on the fact that the floor is yet to be attended to, Bendasoni said : “We used the cement for foundation and construction of the house.”
The Group Village Headman of the area, Kapasule Muyaya said that chiefs were not allowed to inspect on the project or to ask anything by the committee and the contractor.
“We were chased each time we wanted to inspect on the project or ask them anything concerning about purchasing of the construction material. Can you imagine that out of ten people in the committee only three were responsible in handling issues? There was fraud and we want
an explanation on how things were run,” said Muyaya.
Traditional Authority Maseya quizzed on why should the district assembly impose a contractor to the committee and give him powers to purchase construction materials.
“There was no transparency here, and if this behavior will continue our district will remain un developed. Our plea to government is to investigate on what really happened because we are talking of tax payer’s money here,” said Maseya.
However, Director of Planning and Development in the district Peter Dulani accepted that the district assembly gave a mandate to contractors to purchase construction materials because the committee’s had no knowledge on what kind of materials were needed.
Dulani went on to state that the decision was agreed in the presence of all members of parliament from the district.
He however assured the community that the district assembly will map the way forward for the incomplete houses.
“We can assure them that the incomplete houses will be finished soon because our suppliers delayed in supplying us with the materials,” said Dulani.
Kalondolondo programme Manager, Jephter Mwanza that the matter would be taken further to the authorities for scrutiny because there were a lot of loopholes in the handling of the projects.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :